Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What time is it? It's Tradeshow Time!

by: Dioni Morales, National Sales Manager
Many of our Stylists are heading to Tradeshows and Expos this time of year.  We felt that it would be beneficial to offer some suggestions and ideas that will be helpful to you if and when you participate in one.
First of all, why would you participate in a Tradeshow or Expo? It’s very simple: exposure, exposure, exposure! Exposure then translates to leads, leads, leads! It’s a way to reach more people at one time, in one place.  
If you are thinking about participating in these types of events, first do your research.  Make sure that you are attending the right type of show with the right type of attendees.
I asked Vessel Co-Founders Susan and Karen (who, in the beginning stages of Vessel, participated in a few tradeshows), Michelle Abrams (who has a great deal of experience with tradeshows and has a lot planned in the next few weeks to launch her Vessel business), and Jeanette Morales (who is getting ready to participate in a large Expo in Phoenix in a few weeks) to share with me some ideas and thoughts, which I have summarized below. 
·    Take time to plan it, and to make your display/table colorful and inviting. You want it to look like you took the time to plan it, not that you threw it together at the last minute. Include an attractive way to display the product, and have mirrors available so that people can look at themselves wearing the jewelry. Take pictures of your display so that you can continue to make it better the next time around.
·    Decide whether you will sell inventory onsite and plan accordingly.  You can also sell your own inventory until it runs out and then let customers place orders, or have all customers order onsite. 
·    As you hopefully know, we have started putting all of our fragrances on the purple beads in the Stylist Kits.  We have found that this cuts down on the confusion people have had about being able to get any fragrance on any color/shape of bead.  If you have an older Kit, consider getting one of these new purple sets.  In any case, you should make sure you have both a fragranced set and a dry set at the show. 
·    Consider partnering with members of your downline if they are local and/or are willing to travel to the show.  You can share the cost, sales and leads. 
·    Make sure you show your enthusiasm!  You want to convey knowledge about the product and about the business, but most importantly you want to be friendly and approachable.  You want people to want to come to your booth/table because they want to know what this happy looking person has to offer.
·    Have a giveaway.  This is critical to being able to collect leads.  Some tradeshows do giveaways over the loud speakers, and you should certainly participate in those in order to drive people to your booth.  But you should also have your own giveaway.  Create a small form that asks for the basics (name, phone number, email, and at least a city) that participants must complete in order to be eligible for the drawing.  This is a wonderful way to get leads that you can follow up on later.  
·    Don’t make selling your main focus.  You should not judge the success of the event in how much you sold.  Much more important is how many leads you got.
·    Do not rely on simply handing out your business cards.  Participants will most likely misplace them.  You need to make sure you get their information.
·    With that being said, do plan to bring a sufficient number of business cards.
·    Take notes about those who show specific interest; for example, very interested in becoming a Stylist, interested in hosting a Home Party or a catalogue party, interested in buying the product, etc.
·    It is very critical to follow up with all leads as soon as it is possible to do so.  Use your notes to remind yourself what their interest was and how to approach them.
·    Make sure you have business information available: product catalogues, compensation plan brochures, Stylist agreements, etc.
·    Find out if there’s Wi-Fi available and have one or two laptops at the show.  Participants can use one to place orders onsite, and you can have another one with a loop of the Vessel Launch video, for example, or the Vessel website.
·    If there is no Wi-Fi available, consider signing up for one of the free or low-cost merchant accounts available, which will enable you to take credit card payments directly, through smartphone swiper attachments. 
·    Keep in mind that you will almost certainly be required to complete a temporary sales tax permit for the location you are in.  This means that you will have to charge that local tax to customers and remit it to the appropriate taxing authority immediately following the event.  Sometimes the permit process is done onsite, but sometimes it is required before the show. 
·    Be aware that, in many tradeshows and expos, participation is limited to one representative per company.  The good news for Vessel Stylists is that there is a good chance you ARE the only Stylist in the area!
·    For those who show a genuine interest in becoming Stylists, you might want to consider inviting them to an opportunity meeting at a hotel or restaurant, in which you will focus on presenting the business.  You will need to decide what you are providing in this invitation ... is it a meeting only, are you buying coffee or soft drinks for those who attend, will you provide a meal or appetizers?  If you don't decide this but instead leave it open for their interpretation, they might expect something you're not providing.  You also have to arrange something suitable with your chosen venue. 
·    Many shows have various entertainment segments scheduled on the main stage. Find out what is being offered, and whether or not there is an opportunity for Vessel to be featured.  For example, Karen and Susan did one show where a main stage attraction was a fashion show and they were able to get the models to wear Vessel jewelry.  Another thing that is quite common for these "main stage shows" is that there is an opportunity to provide giveaways that are announced during the show. 
·    If you have a teenage daughter or niece, invite her to come with you and model the jewelry. People like to see how the product looks, especially if they are looking to buy gifts for others in the approaching holiday season.
·    Be sure to dress professionally and OF COURSE wear a Vessel ensemble that will really stand out with your outfit.  You should consider a 30” chain so that you can easily extend the locket to someone who would like to sample your fragrance. 
We hope this list helps you to make your Tradeshow/Expo a success, or get you excited about researching events in your area in which you can participate.  If you have additional questions about any of this information, please let me know!  And if you have additional suggestions, we would LOVE to hear them.  You can send your ideas to dioni@vesselscentsofstyle.com.

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